turnerdburner Posted November 11, 2010 Share Posted November 11, 2010 My linkWeek 10 of the NFL season is already here after three short days—officially kicking off a string of Thursday Night Football games in the process. Many pivotal matchups are slated this week, as November is the time when the NFL’s contenders separate themselves from the pretenders.Two possible Super Bowl contenders, the Baltimore Ravens (6-2) and Atlanta Falcons (6-2), will take the field in the Georgia Dome, in what will be a battle for bragging rights in the NFL. Kickoff is set for 8:20 PM and the game will be broadcast on the NFL Network.Both the Ravens and Falcons entered the season with extremely high aspirations. Baltimore was a trendy Super Bowl pick from day one, and Atlanta was a favorite to make big strides after a disappointing 2009 campaign—one marred by injuries and inconsistent play, costing the team a playoff bid.This Thursday will only be the fourth time the Ravens and Falcons have met, with Baltimore holding a 2-1 advantage over the three meetings.Oddly enough, injuries on the Falcons' side could play a major role in the team’s ability to win Thursday night. Eight players are listed on the Falcons injury report, including possibly the best receiver in the NFL, Roddy White.The star Falcons receiver injured his right knee during the first half of Atlanta’s 27-21 win over the Buccaneers. White came out in the second half and played with a brace on his leg. In a press conference, Atlanta’s head coach Mike Smith said White will likely start against the Ravens. White’s level of involvement in Thursday night’s game has yet to be determined.105997017_original_crop_340x234 Ravens safety Ed Reed notching first INT of 2010 against BillsLarry French/Getty ImagesWhite is still listed as “questionable” on Atlanta’s injury report. Falcons TE Justin Peelle has been ruled out for Thursday’s contest.On the flip side, the Ravens are completely healthy for the first time this season, with the exception of safety Tom Zbikowski, who is still dealing with a foot injury. In the month of November, health really matters. Therefore, teams like the Ravens, who are firing on all cylinders at the right moment, automatically have a major advantage over teams like the Falcons.When questioned about the health of his team, head coach John Harbaugh stated, “It will be tough to nail down which players to make inactive for Thursday night’s game. It’ll be based on the 45 players that give us the best chance to win.”With Baltimore already winning the injury battle, what other areas do the Ravens need to focus on in order to stop the NFL’s fifth-ranked offense?Falcons RB Michael Turner will get his chances early and often, according to head coach Mike Smith. The Ravens defense, which has been soft against the run at times, shouldn’t have a problem with Turner, however. Baltimore’s run defense, which ranks 13th in the league, has tightened up over the past several weeks, not allowing a 100-yard rusher since playing the Cleveland Browns back in Week 3.106616991_crop_340x234 Atlanta QB Matt RyanKevin C. Cox/Getty ImagesThere is no doubt most of the Ravens' focus will be on Falcons QB Matt Ryan. The third-year quarterback has won 13 straight home games in the Georgia Dome and is 17-1 all-time at home as a starter—quite impressive when Ryan hasn’t had many elite receivers to work with.Ryan is one of the most complete quarterbacks in the NFL. His accuracy is deadly and his arm strength is right up there with Ravens QB Joe Flacco. Ryan can also beat you on the ground with his legs, extending plays more effectively than most elite quarterbacks can.However, the Ravens have a great passer to call their own. Flacco continues to be the highest rated signal-caller since Week 3, throwing 129 straight passes without an interception. Flacco will need to be perfect on Thursday, as the Falcons rank second in the NFL in forcing turnovers (+7 turnover ratio).When asked about the Falcons' ability to create turnovers, Flacco said, “I’m just going to go in there and continue to try to play consistent football. And I think as long as we do that, then we’ll be alright and we won’t have to worry about that.”Baltimore’s offense has also benefited from the increase in turnovers generated by the defense. In just two games back from the Physically Unable to Perform list (PUP), safety Ed Reed has notched three interceptions. The entire Ravens defense has recorded five in their last two games—very different from the beginning of the season, when the defense couldn’t buy an interception.Which WR will have more of an impact Thursday?Anquan Boldin Roddy White Derrick Mason Someone else Submit Vote vote to see results Which WR will have more of an impact Thursday? * Anquan Boldin 41.4% * Roddy White 34.5% * Derrick Mason 10.3% * Someone else 13.8% Total votes: 29With the Ravens coming off a convincing 26-10 win over the physical Miami Dolphins, look for this high flying Baltimore squad to remain on fire in Atlanta. Baltimore has continued to gain strength ever since Week 3 and many indicators point to the Ravens making a run for the Super Bowl.Nothing is more dangerous than a team that doesn’t make mistakes. The Ravens have shown they could win the close games this season solely with their offense. Now Reed and the rest of the defense is picking up the slack, forcing opposing quarterbacks into mistakes, and making other teams look outright bad.Don’t be surprised to see the Ravens walk out of Atlanta with a 15 to 20 point win. Quote Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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